Ross Duncan Speaks to Star Wars actor John Chapman, now children’s author

It’s difficult to imagine the scene in 1977 when the box office sensation, Star Wars, came to the big screen.  The futuristic story line has changed little over time and through numerous versions of the films yet still retaining its character and making unknown characters household names.

Some may already know that Harrison Ford, who plays the Star Wars character Han Solo, in real life is said to be dyslexic.  Although Harrison Ford is now a recognised star of the silver screen you may not know that in the background, in the very first Star Wars film, X Wing Pilot ‘Red 12 Drifter’ was played by John Chapman, also dyslexic.

Just like futuristic stars created in Star Wars, John Chapman created a series of comic books with the books based on a character called Jonnie Rocket, created to benefit struggling young readers. For John the challenges he had at school were due to undiagnosed dyslexia.  Jonnie Rocket was created to make a difference to children as John didn’t want children to go through experiences he had to go through.  John had experienced an inferiority complex whilst growing up and attending school. As a child the only way he escaped his anguish was to ride his bike, looking up at the stars, thinking there was nothing better than this.

The storyline for Jonnie Rocket mirrors John’s own experiences.  He peddles his bike very hard which then ‘morphs into a rocket ship. The books are used in schools and are aimed at all the Key Stages.  For the young reader the books aim to promote self belief and self confidence and, at the same time, do so in safe non-confrontational environment where there are no weapons.

According to Thomas G. West one of the most important parts of having a creative mind is to have a child-like view of the world.  John agrees 100% with this.

Ross Duncan

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